Gig Economy Project – London couriers: Immigration raid “inextricably linked” to lack of safe waiting area

IWGB couriers question mayor of Hackney’s argument that there was no link between an immigration raid targeting couriers in East London and the couriers’ protest for a safe waiting area which took place just two days previously

IWGB couriers protest in Dalston last year (Picture: IWGB Twitter account)

The Gig Economy Project, led by Ben Wray, was initiated by BRAVE NEW EUROPE enabling us to provide analysis, updates, ideas, and reports from all across Europe on the Gig Economy. If you have information or ideas to share, please contact Ben on

This series of articles concerning the Gig Economy in Europe is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Andrew Wainwright Reform Trust.

FOOD delivery couriers in the IWGB union have challenged Labour’s Philip Glanville, the mayor of Hackney, to meet them and negotiate over their demands for a safe parking area in the Dalston area of East London, after the mayor denied that an immigration raid on couriers in the area was linked to the couriers’ campaign. 

Eight riders were arrested in Dalston for “immigration offences” last month, just two days after protests were held outside Hackney Town Council demanding safe parking spaces.

London’s Metropolitan Special Constabulary (LMSC) said that the arrests were part of “a joint operation” involving “Hackney Police”. However, Glanville issued a statement last week denying any prior knowledge of the operation, stating that it had been “lead” by LMSC and the Home Office, and that he was opposed to immigration raids and was “disappointed” by the timing of the arrests due to “the unintended message that that may send” about the right to protest. 

The mayor added that the council had “gone above and beyond in working to ensure that drivers have safer conditions” and that they were “liaising directly with the drivers and their representatives on their concerns.”

In response, the IWGB union’s Couriers & Logistics Branch have issued a statement to Granville, stating: “As a majority BAME and migrant workforce who work entirely in public space, delivery riders are already disproportionately targeted by police and immigration enforcement in their personal and daily lives. As you know, this is a community of riders that has also already been subject to, for months, a concerted effort by the police and civil enforcement officers to force them out of their workplace. You should understand, therefore, that the riders’ parking campaign and the issue of immigration enforcement are inextricably linked.

“If you are serious that Hackney Council does not support immigration raids linked to enforcement action, we urge you to come to Ashwin Street to meet with riders, to negotiate on our demands about building a free and safe working environment for couriers in Hackney.” The couriers went on to reject Glanville’s claim that the council had sought to ensure safe working conditions for couriers, saying they had “yet to see any evidence of this”.

Parking at the Bentley Road car park will cost £2 an hour from March onwards, which the couriers described as “an unacceptable cost for low-paid workers who can receive as little as £2 an hour during shifts”. The additional cost may force couriers to go back to their previous waiting place, on Ashwin Street, where there has been a concerted attempt to move them off, including through the use of £65 council fines, following plans for the regeneration of a nearby road. The IWGB have previously condemned this as “gentrification in action”, and in their statement to Glanville they said that Bentley Road was much more “isolated and dangerous especially at night” for couriers “who already endure disproportionately high levels of abuse, assault, harassment and theft”.

“Until these problems are properly rectified, drivers should not be forced off of Ashwin Street,” the couriers stated.

The council has stated it plans to build a shelter for couriers on Bentley Road, which the couriers have welcomed, but they criticised the fact that there had been no consultation so far on its design with them. They added that the council should be doing more to pressure food delivery platforms to pay the cost of the new shelter.

“Deliveroo, UberEats, Stuart and JustEat have created massive demand for public infrastructure,” the statement reads. “These multimillion pound companies profit off the lack of infrastructure, while low-paid riders are fined simply for meeting the demands of the job.”

Following news of the immigration raid last week, there was an angry response on social media, including from the Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants, a national charity, which stated: “Absolutely shameful behaviour from the Hackney Police – targeting and arresting couriers who’ve been standing up for their rights.”

Former BBC journalist Paul Mason compared the raids with the police’s approach to illegal parties at UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s address. 

“Spot the difference between the Metropolitan police’s investigation policy towards the civil service/politicians and moped couriers – fight for your workplace rights, face an immigration trawl.”

To sign up to the Gig Economy Project’s weekly newsletter, which provides up-to-date analysis and reports on everything that’s happening in the gig economy in Europe, leave your email here.

BRAVE NEW EUROPE is a not-for-profit educational platform for economics, politics, and climate change that brings authors at the cutting edge of progressive thought together with activists and others with articles like this. If you would like to support our work and want to see more writing free of state or corporate media bias and free of charge, please donate here.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.